Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Public school homeschool: snow and winter...

I am a homeschool mom at heart, but my kids are in public school.
And that is every bit as complicated as it sounds.

We are figuring out how to educate our kids, which we challenge on an almost daily basis.
I want to homeschool.
I do.
But I'm afraid, I guess.
Is it possible to homeschool when you suffer from depression? Will the drive and dedication required lift you out of the pit, or plunge you further into it?

I don't have the answers to those questions yet, and I won't risk my children's minds on my own uncertainty, and so my kids attend public school and preschool. But I have such a tremendous love and appreciation for homeschooling philosophies and truths, that we supplement here at home all the time.

All of this just to explain why I put together units--this week, a unit worth sharing with your kids on snow and snowflakes.

(Note: these are patterned on the idea of Five in a Row. There is a central book you read, every day, for the whole week. Then you do science one day, art one day, geography one day, etc. Reading and math can happen daily.)

Our daily-read books...
For beautiful children's literature in our Charlotte Mason moments, I really love Snow by Uri Shulevitz and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. (Both classics, of course.)
For science...
Do me a favor, ok? Pick up one of Ken Libbrecht's Snowflake books. These books are photographs of actual flakes--I love the "art" version, but there's also a cool Field Guide. Spend an afternoon gazing at snowflakes with your children. If you live in a place where you HAVE snow, then follow that up by catching some snowflakes on black paper. Spend some time in the stillness of winter and just LOOK at some snowflakes. See if you can recognize all the different kids, and decide which is your favorite. It's nearly impossible to do. Ask questions. Be curious. Then go and find out--how do snowflakes form? Why are they each different? How many snowflakes are in a snowball???

Once you're done playing outside, then how about making a real snowflake out of crystals? (This project uses a jar, boiling water, Borax, and some pipe cleaners.) Find instructions here.

For art...
While you wait for that to set overnight, create a winter wonderland with paper snowflakes--a perfect challenge for fine motor skills in little ones. I always wanted to learn to make BEAUTIFUL snowflakes, like my mom, so if you're a little challenged, then you can catch any number of tutorials online or on youtube, or invest in a book like Snowflakes for All Seasons or Snowflakes: Creative Paper Cutouts. (Both on Amazon or Half.com.)

For geography...
How about a unit on Russia, to go along with Snow, or a unit on New York City if you're going for The Snowy Day. Make some ethnic food, learn some words in Russian, and talk about where it snows and where it doesn't, and why.

So, jump in and join us for a unit on snow!!

All the things to love about winter...

In no particular order...
  • Lacy patterns of frost on your car windows, which you have time to appreciate as you scrape them off every morning.
  • Early sunsets mean early bedtimes.
  • Hot drinks like hot chocolate, hot cider, and hot tang. (Did I just admit that out loud?)
  • Comfy jeans and sweatshirts.
  • The annual New Year's Eve countdown (to 8:00) and accompanying smashing of the gingerbread house. (I call dibs on the hard gummi bears.)
  • New Years Resolution spreadsheets, calendars, and themes. (I'm considering "Fake it til you make it" or "Spare Me the Drama" for 2011.)
  • Closure.
  • Winter scented soaps and lotions--peppermint vanilla or grapefruit, depending on if it's night or morning.
  • Pink cheeks.
  • Hot stew.
  • Red cardinals on bare branches.
  • Coming in out of the cold.
  • winter sunrises
  • fleece
  • Finding things to look forward to.
  • Life going slower.
  • Making plans.
  • Winter movies (Little Women, While You Were Sleeping, Sleepless in Seattle, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire...)
  • Messing up when you write the date of the new year.
  • How clean your house can look with all the Christmas decorations put away.
  • Getting back into routines and schedules.
  • Celebrating greatness in mediocre ways. (When's the last time you went all out for President's Day???)
  • At least having Netflix to look forward to in the mail.
  • Rearranging rooms and furniture to placate wanderlust.
  • Prisms hanging in windows that cast winter rainbows on the walls.
  • Super hot showers.
  • Waking up early and getting to doze in your warm, comfortable bed with your sweetheart.
Even in winter--there is always so much to love, don't you think?

Monday, December 27, 2010


A tiny voice inside me has been whispering that she would like to write again.
I have told her, repeatedly, to hush.

I point to the house that's a wreck,
the depression that just. won't. quit,
and the fact that I ran out of things to write several months ago, which led to a neglected blog that is now quite empty.

I remind her that people with depression, like me, tend to be--for lack of a better phrase--kind of a downer. And the very last thing that a month like January needs?
A downer.

But she is such a pest, and she insists that she would like to write.

My apologies.
I tried to tell her...